Keys to success

What would you say are the keys to success for a positive university experience?

From our own survey, students in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work have had a lot to say about this. Research carried out in Australia has also identified a number of factors that can strongly influence student success.

The following table lists these.

Invest time on tasktime spent studying each week is the strongest predictor of success - having a regular study regime is a means of ensuring this.
Regularly attend lectures and tutorials maximising and increasing learning opportunities is also a strong predictor of success - if students attend lectures and tutorials they:
- stay up-to-date with what the course is about
- can seek clarification about course content from lecturers and tutors 
- stay in touch with other students.
Develop a social network at university knowing one person's name is a protective factor against dropping out - building a network with other students is a way of creating mutually beneficial peer support.
Have a clear goal or purpose for attending university (a sense of vocational direction and purpose especially) this is a strong predictor of success and helps to sustain motivation – Education and Social Work students have a clear goal to become qualified educators and social workers.
Engage with the online environment this moderates success at university - engagement with the online environment means that students can:
- stay informed more generally
- build research and information literacy skills by using the library
- communicate with other students through student email
- engage with their learning through the activities set-up in the elearning system used in their courses.
Balance commitments (working on average not more than 15 hours a week in paid employment) making appropriate time for study predicts success - working more than
25 hours per week as a full-time student can be a risk factor for dropping out.
Have some sense of academic self-confidence this predicts success as self-efficacy and an expectation of success is foundational to success in life - developing study skills and academic skills will lead to success and build self-confidence.
(after Lizzio and Wilson, 2010)

Resources at Sydney


  • Lizzio, A, & Wilson, K. (2010) Effective Strategies for the Orientation, Engagement, and Retention of First Year Students – A Workshop for FYAs.